(Photo Credit: File)
Chief Nursing Officer Jascinth Hannibal announced during a World AIDS Day observance interview that five new cases of HIV were recorded in the BVI this year.
World AIDS is celebrated on December 1 around the globe. In an interview with the Ministry of Health, Hannibal disclosed that that the Territory continues to see small increases in the number of infected persons in the Territory.
The Chief Nursing Officer said, “We still have incidents of HIV… In the BVI we have noticed an upward take over the last five years. Where we were seeing one case per year or two case per year.”
As it relates to 2019, the Chief Nursing Officer stated, “So far this year we have had five cases."
She added, "What we have also seen this year is that the population of persons living with HIV tend to be going towards the younger population. We are seeing persons as young as 25 years old, 19 years old with HIV. Some of those cases have been imported, but what we’re seeing now is that we’re seeing local persons with HIV.”
According to Hannibal, the situation calls for more work with regards to reaching that population, especially youth, to bring awareness that they cannot let their guards down.
As it relates to educational efforts, Hannibal explained that this is not a situation where the information is not being transmitted about HIV or AIDS. Instead, shesaid that it is matter of whether the information is being heeded.
“Its not that people don’t know its that people don’t practice what they know. You can meet someone, and they could tell you about condoms, condoms, but are they practicing using condoms. How do we convert what they know into what they do and that is a fight,” Nurse Hannibal explained.
In 2017 it was disclosed that two new cases of HIV was discovered in the Territory for that year. In making that announcement Nurse Hannibal disclosed that both of the persons who tested positive are young persons. Those new cases coupled with the four cases that were reported in 2016.
In 2016, Nurse Hannibal explained that the number of persons infected with HIV in the Territory might be more than 126, because the reality is that persons seek HIV treatment overseas, and some enter the BVI with HIV and only access care at a later stage of their disease.
HIV monitoring commenced in the Virgin Islands in 1985. There have been 126 cases identified with an estimated 38 persons living with HIV without a diagnosis of AIDS and 38 known deaths.
However, Nurse Hannibal opined that the figure might be higher: “We estimate that there are about 56 persons that are living with HIV within the Territory. We know that there have been 38 knowns and we also acknowledge that there are some persons that access care and treatment outside of the Territory and we would not have those as part of our statistics.”
“We also know that persons sometimes leave and so several persons who have started treatment with us for instance have left the Territory; and some who come into the Territory and access care and treatment at a later stage of their disease. So we have to factor all those numbers when we are looking at our statistics,” she stated.
In driving the point home that testing is critical the Chief Nursing Officer said, “When we look at the number 127 we might say oh it is very small for the Territory, but we accept that this just what we know; and there is quite a bit of unknown. That is why we are encouraging people to know your status.”